Foodservice Labeling in Hospitals: It’s Not Just About Nutrients
The foodservice industry is a world constantly changing and evolving, with new regulations being implemented frequently. Ensuring your Grab and Go items are labeled properly and meet regulatory needs is a task that can be overwhelming. Consider the following quote from a peer in the food service industry: “When we heard that the state had changed the labeling requirements, we were worried that we would not be able to find a system that could provide all the information that was necessary to keep us in compliance.”
However, there is some good news! Some companies exist that provide labeling printers specifically geared towards foodservice departments. These systems have helped increase accuracy by having automated expiration dates on back of the house items, as well providing nutritionals, ingredients, allergens, and other details for front of the house items. Labeling solutions can help you meet changing labeling requirements, while helping your customers make healthy and safe choices.
When considering which labeling printer is best for you, these are things to keep in mind:
- Will it be easy for my staff to use? Touchscreen-driven label printers are easy to operate, requiring little training of your staff.
- Can I print labels in the kitchen without a computer connection? Stand-alone units allow your staff to print labels on-demand right at the point of packaging with no computer connection required. Some units have a small footprint and are even wall-mountable.
- Can I customize the label to look how I want? Can I have my logo on it? Make sure the company you go with offers the flexibility to design a custom label. Including your branding, whether it’s for the facility, your retail area, or both, that it can increase sales, promote visibility of your brand and highlight wellness initiatives.
- How do I figure out exactly what my label needs to look like? With varying requirements even within a county, it’s best to speak to your local sanitarian for guidelines. Ask him/her exactly what you’re required to advertise. Share a proof of the label (sometimes provided by the labeling company) with the sanitarian to make sure you’re meeting the requirements.
- Can I change the layout depending on what state requirements are? Flexibility in the label design assures that the system you choose addresses your needs today and well into the future. The labeling company should be able to make changes for a nominal fee.
- Does it integrate with my Nutrition Analysis software? Very few systems allow you to integrate with a foodservice automation system, so it pays to do your homework when deciding on a label printer. Integrations eliminate the work and inherent inconsistencies of managing duplicate sets of information, while increasing the value of your foodservice automation system investment.
For foodservice operations looking to ensure their food labels provide accurate information, enhance customer safety, reflect a professional image, and meet/exceed regulatory standards, a robust labeling system is a vital tool in your arsenal. Remember that quote from the beginning of the article? After deciding on a labeling system, “Our health inspector told us that we ‘Knocked it out of the park’ with our new labels.”
MedVantage Contact Info (for reference): http://www.medvantage.org/foodservice/
Article by: FreshDate Team, MedVantage; Fusion, 3rd Quarter, 2017